Ragan Named Fulbright Scholar

Regina RaganMarch 15, 2017 – UC Irvine’s Regina Ragan, an associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science, has been named a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. Through the Fulbright Flex program, Ragan will collaborate with researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany.

Ragan’s research involves developing new processes in advanced manufacturing of nanoscale devices. She is developing technology that uses optical sensing to detect metabolites, which serve as biomarkers of disease. At KIT, she will implement her pioneering methods for nanomanufacturing nanophotonic devices and investigate their use in next-generation medical diagnostic tools.

“I am honored to be selected among the prestigious group of Fulbright Scholars,” said Ragan. “It is an exciting opportunity to engage with leaders in Germany who have made significant strides in large-area manufacturing of nanostructures and are effectively working with industry for technology transfer.”  

With two annual visits to Germany, Ragan will coordinate research between her UCI group and her KIT collaborators. At KIT, she will work with Jan Korvink, head of the Institute of Microstructure Technology, and Ulrich Lemmer, scientific coordinator of the School of Optics & Photonics. This combined expertise will help the team fabricate an affordable, compact, integrated sensing system that could be deployed broadly to meet remote health care needs in poor countries. Korvink has a distinguished record of accomplishment in advancing low-cost diagnostics in developing nations. 

At UCI, Ragan collaborates with Katrine Whiteson, a biochemist who studies changes in metabolomic profiles associated with pathogens, and Allon Hochbaum, a materials scientist who studies signaling in microbial communities. Together, they have demonstrated that nanophotonic devices exhibit early detection of biofilm formation via metabolite sensing. This activity has broad applications in earlier detection of lung infections and monitoring biofilm formation in wounds and in medical instruments.  

“Between UCI and KIT, we have a strong team to move forward,” says Ragan. “It will be exciting to use technology developed at UCI in important societal applications.”   

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the government's flagship program in international educational exchange. The Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program sends approximately 800 American scholars and professionals per year to approximately 130 countries, where they lecture and/or conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields. 

- Lori Brandt